Former Bud Light workers have accused its leadership of ‘cowardice’ following the Dylan Mulvaney fiasco – and said the company should have supported the trans influencer more.
Sales at Anheuser-Busch are down 30 percent since 2022 following their disastrous partnership with Mulvaney – a transgender influencer who has chronicled her transition to womanhood on TikTok.
The former top-selling beer has since been surpassed by Modelo, Coors and Yuengling in sales.
Now, ex-employees at the company have slammed leadership for ‘lying’ to staff, not supporting Mulvaney enough, and of keeping them in the dark while the firm faced setback after setback.
They expressed wishing that management had just stuck to their guns and told the world to ‘get over it’ rather than reeling after the mistake.
One person, who used to work in the Anheuser-Busch publicity department, told the Guardian that after the ordeal: ‘My job was not normal. It was completely different and very strange.’
Bud Light’s issues started with Dylan Mulvaney, 26, sharing a video to her 10.8 million Instagram followers of herself cracking open a can of Bud Light on April 1
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth
Another former employee said about the aftermath of the disastrous partnership: ‘There was a lot of panic and a lot of rash decision-making.
‘We didn’t hear anything from leadership for over a month, and then after a few weeks, someone high up at Anheuser-Busch released a statement that pretty much said nothing.’
Others said Alissa Heinerscheid, the marketing VP who was blamed for the disaster, ‘had nothing to do with it.’
The former worker told the Guardian there was ‘incompetence in the leadership on a national level’ at Anheuser-Busch.
Ex-workers at Anheuser-Busch also expressed feeling concerned for Mulvaney herself during the situation, but they were often shut down by their bosses.
One person recalled asking their boss: ‘Are we doing everything we can as a company to support this person?’ The response was: ‘Yes, don’t worry about it. We’re constantly talking to her.’
Mulvaney’s disastrous partnership with Bud Light occurred in April around the time of March Madness
Other workers at the beer company described how they felt worried about job security while the company’s shares and profits plummeted – but bosses didn’t do much to help.
One former employee said: ‘I don’t remember there being much assurance. It’s possible that there was a canned response given in some town hall [meeting].’
They said there were ‘a lot of trickled-down lies from leadership’.
And another said they wished bosses had just admitted: ‘We did this; beer is for everyone; get over it.’
The company said Bud Light’s sales were down 27 percent over a four week period in September against the same time period in 2022.
Just last week, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates bought 1.7 million shares of Anheuser-Busch on the back of Wall Street analysts encouraging investors to buy stock in the drinks brand.
This month saw Bud Light’s latest attempt to bring back former drinkers with the launch of bottles specific to college sports team, including the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
In August, Bud Light’s parent company expressed confidence its U.S. market share has stabilized after a promotion with a transgender influencer cost it sales.
Anheuser-Busch Inbev said its U.S. revenue fell 10.5 percent in the second quarter.
The company said its total U.S. market share for all brands fell more than 5 percent to 36.9 percent in April, but then remained stable from the end of April through the end of June. Some of the company’s brands, like Busch Lite and Michelob Ultra, have gained U.S. market share.
InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said in August during an earnings call that the company plans to provide financial support to U.S. wholesalers through the end of December to make up for lost Bud Light sales.
But he also said internal polling shows that 80 percent of U.S. consumers remain favorable or neutral toward the brand.
‘One, they want to enjoy their beer without a debate. Two, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Three, they want Bud Light to concentrate on the platforms that all consumers love, such as the NFL and music,’ he said.
‘We are taking the feedback and working hard to earn our consumers’ business.’
Some investors raised concerns about the company’s discounts on Bud Light. In early July, for example, one Michigan grocery was offering a $15 rebate on a 24-pack of Bud Light, which normally sells for $20.99.
But Doukeris said price increases over the last year have put the company in a better position to offer discounts. And he said summer marketing campaigns were planned even before the Bud Light situation.